San Francisco's Must-See Museums
World-class aquariums, interactive science exhibits, and some of the country’s most diverse art collections make San Francisco’s museums a must for any visitor. But it’s not just the collections that are magnificent; critically acclaimed architecture and some of the most breathtaking vistas in the city also make San Francisco’s museums worth the visit. Be sure to see some of the following extraordinary museums now that the arts are open in San Francisco.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast Museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, the transformed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art re-opened in 2016. The Snohetta-designed expansion includes 170,000 square feet of new and renovated galleries, enabling SFMOMA to display more of its 33,000 modern and contemporary artworks, with an entire floor dedicated solely to photography. Free access to 45,000 square feet of ground-floor galleries and for visitors 18 and younger make SFMOMA more welcoming and connected to the city than ever before.
California Academy of Sciences*
Home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and world-class research and educational programs, the California Academy of Sciences is one of San Francisco's must-see destinations. From the splashing penguins in the African Hall to the wildflowers on the roof, the building is bursting with life. A four-story rainforest and awe-inspiring coral reef ecosystem delight visitors of all ages, while immersive planetarium shows transport you through space and time for a new perspective on our planet. The Academy is also topped by a 2.5-acre living roof, which is a crucial part of its eco-friendly design and operations in Golden Gate Park.
Located on Pier 15 of the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium is an interactive museum inspiring creativity in people of all ages. Explore more than 600 hands-on exhibits and enjoy breathtaking views of the city and bay in the spectacular glass-and-steel Bay Observatory.
The Walt Disney Family Museum
Dedicated to the life and work of Walt Disney, creator of some of America’s most beloved animation including Mickey Mouse, this museum is housed in a historic building in the Presidio. Contemporary interactive galleries and state-of-the-art exhibits are narrated in Walt's own voice and feature early drawings, cartoons, movies, music, listening stations, more than 200 video screens, and a spectacular model of Disneyland. While you're there, enjoy daily screenings of Disney movie classics.